After Shilpa storm, Richard Gere cools off in Kathmandu
Apr 17, 2007 - 8:45:53 AM

Kathmandu, April 17 - After triggering a storm in India for kissing actress Shilpa Shetty at a public campaign in AIDS awareness, Hollywood icon and Tibet activist Richard Gere arrived here unannounced, probably to cool off.

Even as Nepal's media reported the brouhaha in Mumbai where Shilpa's fans burned Gere's effigy, demanding an apology, the 58-year-old star traced his way back to Nepal, where he had first been in the 70s, for a quick visit.

While Nepal's media lay preoccupied with the happenings in its southern neighbour, Gere, accompanied by his secretary, flew in almost unnoticed by the local press.

The star of the 1990 blockbuster 'Pretty Woman', which also featured Julia Roberts, Gere, who chairs the International Campaign for Tibet -, an organisation striving to uphold Tibetans' rights, will focus fresh attention on Tibetan refugees with his Kathmandu trip.

He is scheduled to visit the Tibetan Refugee Reception Centre in Kathmandu, where Tibetans, fleeing from China-controlled Tibet, stay under the supervision of the UN High Commission for Refugees till their onward journey to India is arranged.

Gere, one of the most high-profile followers of the Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of the Tibetans, had drawn fresh attention to the plight of the fleeing Tibetan refugees recently when he released a report compiled by ICT, that also described how Chinese border patrols had fired on unarmed women and children last year, killing a 17-year-old nun and taking young children prisoner.

Gere, known for his humanitarian work, is also a founding member of 'Tibet House,' a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture.

He has also been an active supporter of 'Survival International', a worldwide organization supporting tribal peoples, donating them his pound 50,000 appearance fee after attending a Harrods's opening.

Also involved in AIDS awareness campaigns, Gere was in India earlier this week to take part in an event to promote safe sex and raise AIDS awareness among truck drivers, a high-risk group in India.

The campaign turned out to be hugely different from the ordinary sedate ones when Gere bent back Shilpa Shetty in a bear hug and kissed her several times on her cheek.

While his delighted audience whistled lustily, Shilpa's fans however took umbrage and the protests were taken up by the militant Hindu rightwing Shiv Sena, who demanded Gere apologise and leave India.

Morning calls at Dwarika's, Nepal's famed heritage hotel where celebrities prefer to stay, went unanswered with the staff saying the visitors were still sleeping.

Gere first came to Nepal in 1978 after getting his first break in Hollywood with 'Looking for Mr. Goodbar'.

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